By TODD FRANKO
The opening event of the 2018 Greatest Golfer of the Valley was settled Sunday by tight battles in the two u17 juniors divisions. In the u14 girls play, the 2017 champ is on her way to repeating for 2018.
In play at Pine Lakes Golf Club, Justin Atkinson of Yankee Run Golf Course bested Alex Rapp of The Lake Club by one stroke, 76 to 77, to win u17 boys.
The Brookfield student carded two birdies on the day and was actually headed for an under-par round before a triple-bogey on 15 cost him that.
He held on though. It’s a good start following up on an 11th-place finish in last year’s Greatest championship. He said this year will be different.
“I’m definitely on a mission.”
Jacob Snyder of The Lake Club finished in third with an 82.
In the girls u17 division, Kyra Woods of Tam O’Shanter Golf Course carded an 85 to win by two shots over Jenna Jacobson of Mill Creek Golf Course.
Woods, a sophomore at Hickory High School, is in her second year of Greatest. Birdies on holes 3 and 14 powered her round.
“On No. 3, I hit an iron shot to 10 feet. The putt curved right and in.”
The two players went back and forth all day — right up to No. 18. On the tee box, Woods just tried to keep it simple.
“I just wanted to stay focused on the tee shot. It was a good one.”
Greatest Golfer of the Valley is an all-ages, summer-long series of golf championships produced by The Vindicator and sponsored by Farmers National Bank, Covelli Enterprises and Superior Beverage. The juniors play leads the event. Then in August, adult scramble championships, long-drive and ladies 2-person events lead up to the 320-player, 54-hole adults tournament. Information for Greatest is on www.vindy.com/golf.
All winners Sunday earn an automatic seat in the Greatest Golfer junior championship in July at Avalon Lakes and Squaw Creek golf courses.
In the u14 divisions Sunday, Dominic Kapics of Duck Creek Golf Course carded his best Greatest score ever, an 80, to win his division. The Austintown Fitch student birdied the par-4 No. 15 by placing his 100-yard iron shot to 4 feet from the pin for a straight-in birdie.
Second place went to Michael Porter of Avalon Lakes Golf Course, who shot an 81. Kaiden Sykes of Salem Hills shot a 91 for third place.
Leah Benson, the 2017 Greatest Golfer u14 champ, is off to another run in 2018, scoring an 82 to win the u14 girls division.
The Tam O’Shanter and Hickory High School freshman used a strong back nine holes to win. She scored a 39 on the back and 10 pars total on the day.
Second-place went to Alexandra Petrochko of Avalon Lakes, with an 86. Third-place was Jayne Bernard of Mill Creek Golf Course with a 93.
76 Atkinson Justin Yankee Run Golf Course
77 Rapp Alex Lake Club
82 Snyder Jacob Lake Club
84 Vitali Joey Avalon South Golf Course
88 Koziel Kyle Mill Creek Golf Course
88 Nord Luke Lake Club
88 Hiner Jonathan Yankee Run Golf Course
89 Cene Nathan Duck Creek Golf Course
92 Bokan Zavier Mahoning Country Club
95 Sylak Jake Avalon Lakes Golf Course
98 Matig Tanner Mahoning Country Club
100 Liburdi Mason Hickory VFW Golf Course
104 Shelton Robert Avalon at Squaw Creek
106 Loychik Christopher Avalon South Golf Course
85 Woods Kyra Tam O'Shanter
87 Jacobson Jenna Mill Creek Golf Course
96 Ungaro Carly Pine Lakes Golf Course
108 Mchale Eileen Flying B Golf Course
109 Ogden Hannah Mill Creek Golf Course
112 Shaw Kristen Mill Creek Golf Course
118 Gardner Kylie Bristolwood Golf Course
121 Stoneburner Megan Lake Club
131 Liddle Mary Mill Creek Golf Course
137 Zarbaugh Laurel Pine Lakes Golf Course
80 Kapics Dominic Duck Creek Golf Course
81 Porter Michael Avalon Lakes Golf Course
91 Sykes Kaiden Salem Hills Golf Course
93 Kelly Nathan East Liverpool Country Club
107 Cesario Anthony Yankee Run Golf Course
82 Benson Leah Tam O'Shanter
86 Petrochko Alexandra Avalon Lakes Golf Course
93 Bernard Jayne Mill Creek Golf Course
120 Yurich Sophia Lake Club